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July 2015

Challenging

Migraine

The magazine from Migraine Action

Flying migraine free
Page 11
A pain in the neck
Page 14

MA success at
the BBC Page 31

Challenging

Migraine

The magazine from Migraine Action

Contents
Initiatives
£ Fundraising
Page 4


 Page 6

Young Migraineurs

!

Features
Page 8
Treatment & Research News
Page 21

Out and about with the
Migraine Action Team
Rebekah Aitchison heads into the BBC
studios in London to record Migraine
Action’s BBC Radio 4 Appeal with Dr
Sarah Jarvis. Find out what happened
on page 31



Member Feedback
Page 25



Headache Clinics
Page 28



News and Views
Page 31

Please address all correspondence to the office. The views and opinions expressed by contributors are not
necessarily those of MA or the Editor. The right is reserved to edit items submitted. This publication provides
information only. Unless otherwise stated, the authors have no medical qualifications whatsoever. Migraine Action
and its officers can accept no responsibility for any loss, howsoever caused, to any person acting or refraining from
action as a result of any material in the publication or any information given. Medical advice should be obtained on
any specific matter.

Office Address:
Migraine Action, 4th Floor, 27 East Street, Leicester LE1 6NB
Helpline: 08456 011 033 Email: info@migraine.org.uk
Web: www.migraine.org.uk Children’s web: www.migraine4kids.org.uk
www.migain.org.uk
Please contact the office for details of
headache and migraine clinics.
Registered Charity Number: 1152973

2

www.migraine.org.uk



As I write this, at the beginning of the financial year, Migraine
Action is in a robust position. In addition to strong finances,
our membership has grown by nearly 10% over the last year.
We are also reaching out way beyond our membership, and
our events this year in Cardiff, Cambridge and Guildford have
been exceptionally well attended, and the majority are new
to Migraine Action! We have been helped by increasing media
coverage in local newspapers and radio stations, as well as an ever
improving online presence.
We are spending much time at the moment talking to people affected by
migraine, asking you about your experiences of migraine, and what you think we
should be doing in the future. (If you would like to complete this survey at
www.surveymonkey.com/s/migraine-action-survey, or if you call the office on
08456 011 033 we will send you a paper version). We will be reporting on the
results in future edition of Challenging Migraine.
I am also delighted to report that Rebekah Leedham has joined us from the
National Youth Agency at the beginning of June. Rebekah will bring a new
approach and energy to our work with young migraineurs. We will also be
focusing on young people at this year’s London Migraine Insight and AGM.
Please see page 7 for further details.
We were staggered by the results of the BBC Radio 4 appeal, and the generosity
of so many people! We are delighted that so many non-sufferers appreciated that
migraine is so much more than a headache. We are strongly working towards
educating as many as we can on why migraine is not just a headache, and would
love to hear your experiences. Get in touch with us today to share your story.
Many of you will know Professor Peter Goadsby of King’s College. His team are
looking for volunteers for a brain imaging study and need your help, (see page
21 for further details). This is an important piece of work, so if you feel able to
volunteer please contact the research team as soon as you can.
Finally I would like to pass on our heartfelt thanks to the family of Miss Jean
Gemmell. She was a longstanding supporter of Migraine Action and has been
most generous in her recent bequest to Migraine Action.
Simon Evans
Chief Executive

July 2015 Challenging Migraine - The magazine from Migraine Action

3

Fundraising Initiatives
Go girl!

£

This July, Laura Parry will be running in
the Southampton Big Fun Run to help
raise funds for Migraine Action. Laura,
after receiving a number of incorrect
diagnoses, was finally diagnosed with
vestibular migraines in 2013. Here she
tells us why she is running for Migraine
Action;
“When I was first diagnosed it was
very difficult and I was lucky I had a
wonderful support network of friends
and family, and I honestly don't know
where I would be without my fiancé.
My story can get a bit long sometimes,
but I am essentially running, walking
or rolling 5K at the Southampton Big
Fun Run, for Migraine Action who are
a brilliant charity, supporting people
with migraines, raising awareness and
supporting research.
With the wonderful support of my friends
and family I was able to complete my
undergraduate degree and start my
postgraduate studies at the University of
Southampton.
I am now doing extremely well managing
my migraines through psychological
techniques and preventative medication
(hopefully soon to come off completely).
Luckily I have discovered my triggers
and I am able to minimise the
negative effects these have on
my health and predict

4

www.migraine.org.uk

when I am likely to have a migraine.
I have also learnt so much about
health and illness from my MSc health
psychology course at Southampton,
which will hopefully not only enable
me to get better, but to eventually use
the knowledge to help other people.
The high prevalence of migraines and
headache, including a family history,
demonstrates the need for support and
awareness of an extremely debilitating
condition.
I try to be positive about my migraines
and they have brought me down this

path so I can help people, including
raising money for Migraine Action!
Donating just a small amount of money
will help continue to provide others, like
me, with information and support, raise
awareness, and fund vital research into
the causes and treatment of migraines.

control over them rather than the other
way round.”
If you would like to sponsor Laura on her
Big Fun Run at the end of the month, call
us on 08456 011 033 or email
info@migraine.org.uk.

I now believe I can do anything I want to
and my migraines won't beat me. I know
now how to manage them and I have

Migraine Action stamp appeal
Thank you so much to all of you who
have already sent us your used stamps
for our stamp appeal. We have already
raised an incredible £397! Our target of
£500 is now in reaching distance, and
we would be delighted if you could help
us get there. All you need to do is collect

any used or old stamps and send to
the address below. How about getting
your work colleagues involved to see
how many stamps you can collect as a
team! Every stamp helps us to continue
to support all those affected by migraine
across the UK, so get collecting.

July 2015 Challenging Migraine - The magazine from Migraine Action

5

Young Migraineurs
Migraine Awareness Week;
Caelan's story
This September, Migraine Awareness
Week is all about young migraineurs.
Migraine Action will be focusing on
helping to provide parents, children and
teachers with information so desperately
needed on this neurological condition.
Just like Ruth and her son Caelan;
Ruth told us that “I hadn't developed
migraine until my late 20's so I was
surprised Caelan suffered his so early. As
a migraine sufferer myself, it meant the
diagnosis was easy and one we knew
before we saw the GP, when Caelan
was only about 6 years old. We felt
worried that he might experience some
of the hurdles that his mum does with
fluorescent and LED light sensitivity.
Luckily, unlike myself, Caelan seems to
recover quickly - he is always better the
next day so that's one relief.
He has very obvious symptoms. He gets
the onset of head pain very suddenly
and rarely does he inform us in time for
paracetamol type treatment. Usually
within 15 minutes he is in severe pain and
physically sick, then he falls asleep, and
recovers swiftly. He never experiences
aura like symptoms.
We do our best to limit exposure to the
environmental triggers. Caelan,
who is now 8, no longer
does extra-school

6

www.migraine.org.uk





sports in the school gym, as the school
gym is controlled by underfloor heating
and is usually too hot. The school are
aware of this and the issue is ongoing,
but it may be impossible to fix. Caelan
now knows he must wear a hat when
playing sports outside in the sun. He still
gets caught out by travel sickness which
can induce headaches that can turn into
a migraine.
Luckily Caelan’s friends do not tease him
about wearing a hat any more, although
we did have some issues with a teacher
who thought he wouldn't be able to see
properly for playing sport. I don't think his
friends really understand but he isn't seen
having a migraine as they occur typically
in the evening. Migraine Action of course
have been the most amazing support and
I hope they can continue to help others
just like us.”
So many children are not as lucky as
Caelan to receive a diagnosis so quickly,
and can spend years trying many
different treatments for other conditions,
searching for answers. It is estimated that
2.75 million school days are missed each
year due to migraine, and an enormous
10% of schoolchildren are affected by
this misunderstood neurological attack.
A migraine attack in children may last for
as little as an hour, but can last as long as
three days with a ‘washed out’ feeling for
a couple of days after an attack.

Although headache is common in adults
with migraine, it is less of a feature in
children for whom other symptoms may
be more prevalent. They may include:
•A
 bdominal pain nausea and / or
vomiting
•A
 n increased sensitivity to light, sound,
and / or smells
• ‘Aura’ - neurological symptoms such
as visual disturbance, confusion,
numbness, or pins and needles
In at least 4% of children, the predominant
symptom of migraine is abdominal pain,
possibly without a headache, or the
headache is mild, and it is very easy for
the condition to go unrecognised or be
misdiagnosed. Children of any age can
be affected by migraine; however two
peaks have been noted when migraines
begin – one at around the age of 5 years
old (just like Caelan) and the second at
age 10 - 12 years.
Often abdominal migraine evolves to the
more recognised migraine pattern as
the child grows older. A Migraine Action
survey showed that over 70% of adults
with migraine experienced their first attack
in childhood or adolescence, with many
only aware with hindsight after receiving a
diagnosis later in life.
Are you a migraine sufferer who
experienced attacks as a child?
If yes, we need your help this September,
in Migraine Awareness Week!

Migraine
Awareness Week
Sadly, not all are as fortunate as
Caelan with receiving an early
diagnosis, and many children and
young people continue to experience
attacks during their adolescent years
with little help or relief. That’s why
this September, as part of Migraine
Awareness Week, we need your
help to support children and young
people affected by migraine. We
want to directly support more young
people who are suffering in silence
and would love to hear from you!
• Are you a young person suffering
from migraine? How much support
do you receive from those around
you?
• Did you suffer migraines as a
child? Who did you turn to when
your attacks began?
• What support is needed to better
improve the lives of young people
with migraine?
If you would like to share your
experiences or get involved in
Migraine Awareness Week from the
6th September, please contact us at
info@migraine.org.uk. Together,
we can ensure that children and
young people get the support they
desperately need.

July 2015 Challenging Migraine - The magazine from Migraine Action

7

Feature

!



Finding the answers
Like so many of us, Zoe Hepburn was
looking for answers to her migraine and
a way to regain control. When her dentist
linked her migraines to jaw tension, Zoe
found Janet Gravener and everything
changed.
“Put quite simply,
Janet has helped
me to get my life
back.
I had suffered
from migraines
for about two
decades which
had worsened in
frequency and
intensity over time.
Janet Gravener
The impact on my
life was devastating, such that I was only
able to work reduced hours. I was never
able to plan ahead because I didn’t
know whether or not I’d be functioning.
My children were growing up with a sick
mum who was bed-ridden and in short,
I felt disabled. Moreover, the cause of
these migraine attacks was a complete
mystery to me. This all contributed to my
sense of helplessness.
I found out about Janet Gravener
through my dentist after some of my
migraine attacks appeared to be
linked to tension in my jaw.
Janet told me she was
running a trial

8

www.migraine.org.uk

to find out whether osteopathy could
reduce headache pain. In return for
completing a Migraine Action Headache
Diary before and during osteopathic
treatment, Janet offered me four free
sessions of osteopathy especially
targeted at reducing the frequency and
intensity of my migraines.”
Janet said “Osteopaths are known for
their ability to soothe aching muscles
but nightly osteopathy, following a hard
day’s work, isn’t really an option. So, to
reduce the tension felt around the head,
we need to find ways to modulate the
physical demands placed upon our neck
and shoulder muscles during the day.
Simple strategies to reduce this “bodily
stress” can make a small but significant
change to an individual’s migraine
activation pathway.”
Zoe told us that “the amazing thing
about Janet is that, she takes a holistic
approach to treating migraines.
Osteopathy is only one aspect of the
approach. Together we considered every
aspect of my lifestyle and identified many
factors that might be contributing to the
build-up of muscular-skeletal tension
resulting in migraine pain. We also
identified patterns in the occurrence of
the attacks. All this information enabled
us to put in place a holistic treatment
plan. Given that I work as a Cognitive
Behavioural Therapist, collaboratively
we also came up with the idea of using

“Put quite simply, Janet has

helped me to get my life back."
a diagram (a “formulation” tailored to
the individual) to visually represent the
maintaining and perpetuating factors
of my migraine pain and how each of
these factors might be addressed and
managed. Having this formulation helped
me to be objective about the pain I was
experiencing; it was no longer something
“supernatural”, it was something that
made sense in the context of my lifestyle
and therefore it was something I could
gain some control over.”

husband, Zoe soon created the perfect
desktop solution, which allowed her
neck and shoulder muscles to relax
and her ribcage and diaphragm to fully
expand, optimally working to perfuse
richly oxygenated blood to her head
and body. Thus biomechanically making
small but cumulatively significant
changes to her own migraine activation
pathway.”

“My musculoskeletal assessment of
Zoe, found that she had increased
ligamentous flexibility which was leading
to a few muscles having to work harder.”
Janet explains. “This is a fairly common
finding in my assessment of migraine
sufferers and is also found - in differing
degrees - in the general population.
Personally, this meant that Zoe’s neck
and shoulder muscles fatigued at the
end of the day, after carrying heavy loads
and by being held in fixed positions.
Usually, recurring bodily stress arises
from sustained working postures and
Zoe thought that her desk and computer
set-up were placing a strain on the back
of her neck. Hence we discussed the
benefits of a “standing-desk” which
can be raised or lowered, to vary the
positional demands on her joints,
ligaments and muscles.
With the support of her resourceful

Zoe at her new perfect desk

July 2015 Challenging Migraine - The magazine from Migraine Action

9


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